To Tad Nelson, a crime scene represents pieces of a puzzle waiting to be solved. “The physical evidence tells a story,” the Illinois State Police crime scene investigator said recently, seated at his desk at the Moline Police Department surrounded by crime lights, fingerprint brushes and other tools of his trade. Seven years on the job trained him to approach a crime scene with an analytical mindset. “I’m there for answers,” he said. “I’m there to get answers and to identify possible evidence to help us get answers. We’re there to help family members, or the friends, or the loved ones, who are still there.” Hired by the state police in 2000, Nelson was a road trooper and accident reconstructionist until 2007 when, intrigued by their “intricate” caseload, he applied to work as a crime scene investigator. State CSIs typically completes nine months to a year of on-the-job training learning to identify evidence, from latent prints and footprints to potential DNA. Before their training is complete, recruits must comb through a mock crime scene; if they correctly identify and catalog evidence, the real work begins. Mr. Nelson and his fellow CSIs are spread out over more than 20 counties in […]
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